Research Paper: American Revolution Many People Understand

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¶ … American Revolution

Many people understand the American Revolution from a "tip of the iceberg" perspective.

They feel this war was perpetuated by a struggle between colonists and the ruthless British regime.

While this may be part of the cause, it is not the entire reason for the Revolutionary War. In fact, the majority of the colonies inhabitants felt pride and called themselves Englishmen, which goes against the idea that the English regime was tyrannical. They had many rights and privileges that most in other

areas of the world would consider luxurious for the 18th century.

The main issue certain colonists had with the British monarchy, is they were forced t live as subjects in a culture that required British political adherence; the main one being leaders establish classical virtue. According to Plato and Aristotle's writings, this kind of virtue was utilized for centuries in Europe to determine socio-economic class. The problem was, Old World ideologies where incompatible with more modern, New World condition, so this type of system naturally disintegrated.

Most members of the colonial society balked at the obvious contradiction between a Republic and individual self-interest. Those whom were pro-classical virtue, felt only the individual could rise and elevate themselves to an ethical level, to be able to make adequate community decisions. On the flip side, men with market interests, particularly for themselves would make decisions that served his own self-interest, rather than the community he is supposed to represent.

Some important people within the colonies, especially members of the merchant class, did not care much for this "idyllic" virtue set for by the monarchy. Years preceding the American Revolution, most of these people clung to the liberalism ideology, a totally different view on the understanding of virtue. The Liberals accepted self-interest under the umbrella of republicanism, with the notion that

advancement of one's own economic interests will benefit community members with the trickle down effect; this is where the wealthiest spend and it trickles down to the middle and lower classes.

Both ideas of virtue had multiple factions in the colonies that gained plenty of support. Each one believed their personal notion was correct and should be the foundation for the New Republic. The primary focal point of the virtue conflict was Robert Morris, a well-known merchant from Philadelphia,

later became the financier of the American Revolution. Morris had plenty of economic interests in the market and he also had aspiration of rising to a prominent leadership role. This would permit him to play a big part of developing government policies. Morris may have been the most famous liberal virtue proponent in the debate Richard Henry Lee. Robert Morris, enjoyed wealthy merchant success that catapulted him into elite colonial society; Lee, on the other hand, was born into wealth, or as some say, "with a silver spoon in his mouth" in Virginia. Also, adding to his own controversy, Robert Morris

had a pivotal role in the congressional debate between Lee and Deane, the latter being not only pro-liberal virtue, but also one of Morris' business partners.

These consistent debates defined the American Revolution, as this was a war fought by eloquent orators giving speeches, rather than soldiers with rifles and cannons. While there was no blood shed during the determination of the prevailing virtue in the New Republic, the end result was a figurative battlefield when it came to establishing the type of nation the colonies were to ultimately become. The American Revolution is historical because this war brought the first military into service. It has pointed out, it was "a mild and relatively bloodless revolution," according to Irving Kristol. There were casualties, however not the same amount of bloodshed, revolutionary warfare or reign of terror that were pre-cursors for the American Revolution. The two major battles fought during the war occurred at Lexington and Concord in April of 1775. At the conclusion of these battles, the British lost 99 men with 174 wounded, with the colonial forces having 49 casualties and 46 wounded. Another famous battle, the Battle of Bunker Hill in June 1775, the British tried to develop a smoke and mirrors approach of invincibility against American militia, they thought were amateur, but this was an abysmal failure. The Americans did not relent, used all of their ammunition and gave the British pause to realize

American strength. The Brits incurred over 1,000 casualties during that fight.

Traditionally, colonial society stuck with principles and kinship and patronage before the American Revolution. These were they types of bonds that held Breen's Tidewater society together.[4]

The masters of the monarchy basically forced these institutions on colonists, who had been utilizing the from the past virtues of feudal Europe. Self-interest was considered taboo, because of the limited

European resources. Ultimately, one individual's gain would mean another individual's loss. But in the New World, resources were plentiful in such a way that Europeans could not imagine. This permitted an industrious man to enhance his fortune and benefit his community simultaneously, through his personal success.[5]

The ease with which men were able to acquire land in the New Republic, was another attractive aspect to aid in the new idea of leadership. Most men within the colonies owned land which placed

Americans on a seemingly more affluent socio-economic scale than that of their European counterparts.

It was different in the New Republic; a man could work on his own land to earn money, instead of working for a landlord. The latter were individuals who had an inherent vested interest in commerce.

There was a rise of the merchant class that coincided with this new idea of virtue, mostly around

New York, Boston and Philadelphia. This was part of the northernmost colonial economy that governed markets associated to those in Europe. Merchants began to grasp control and influence their communities once commerce had expanded. However, this time the fruits were the result of their own hard labor instead of descending from bloodlines. Both developments indicate that the colonial society was veering toward a capitalism system. This mean everyone, not simply the wealthy elite, could play an active role in the marketplace.

Once the Revolution was over, the faction that fought for self-interest acceptance, also had an official document drawn up so to protect their interests. Unfortunately, this was associated a resurrection of classical virtue where delegates of the Constitutional Convention saw themselves as the only men competent to serve the state. The document produced was designed to promote the propagation of their self- interests, under the assumption they were coordinated with interests of those of in American society as a whole.[8] Not only did these people adhere to the doctrine they previously fought to replace with their own, but they were behaving in a manner that strengthened the positions of the elite in regard to lower socio-economic classes.[9] This created a New Republic that developed extremely wide class barriers, the rich and poor were so far apart, which followed the footsteps of European kingdoms of the past. 10]. This capitalistic society ensure its inhabitants extensive freedom and opportunity they would not have had before. An average man could be autonomous in the way he earned his living, abolishing the need for an elite class of politicians to lead them [11]

The old school principles had finally lost their clout in the Americas, as they were too restrictive to building commerce within the colonies, and most people simply felt the rule of the monarchy conflicted with their personal self-interests. The American Revolution led to the demise of the British monarchy and permitted an emergence of a new form of government; one that redefined the inter-relationship of republicanism and virtue. The Continental Congress procurement provided the assembly for this type of decision to be held.

One of the paramount members of the elite in Virginia who claimed he suffered under the monarchy government, was Richard Henry Lee. He along with many others found the deterioration of the tobacco market ruined most farmers to whom Lee leased his land. This effect stifled Lee's income potential which he stated was, "barely sufficient with the greatest economy to maintain my family in the best of times."[44] Not only that, the printing of paper money to help stimulate the economy and trade relations made his situation more dire[45]. Lee was forced to search for a means to "prevent his own ruin."[46].

In June of 1776, Lee sent a letter to another planter named Landon Carter. In this letter, Lee

expressed an interest in joining with France, and have "their ships to cover our trade, and open our

Ports."[48] Lee also wrote a letter to Robert Morris in which he stated:

That a plan is formed with France to supply them with tobacco from America. The Americans will take care to send it there, only such a kind of tobacco that the French have been accustomed to receive, otherwise the general trade in that Commodity will hereafter be much injured, if not totally ruined.[49]

While this debate between Richard… [END OF PREVIEW]

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